This post on What Are Your Friends Struggling With? was written by Jeffrey Chen, who is pursuing a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Fuller Theological Seminary. Jeffrey has a passion for sharing God’s love with those around him. He blogs at The Wayvy Life.
Hanging out with friends can be really fun. Whatever that may look like to you, whether it is going to the movies, the bar, the mall, a sports event, or just kicking it at their place, it is always a good way to get away from life’s problems. Recently, I’ve been watching the show A Million Little Things with my girlfriend. The show is about a group of really good friends who especially enjoy going to watch the Boston Bruins play hockey together. Their time together is always full of laughter and joy.
However, when the leader of the group Jon (who seemingly has the perfect life with a high-paying job and picturesque marriage) commits suicide, the group of friends begins to question what friendship really means. They can’t believe they didn’t know the immense struggles of one of their closest friends. At the same time, they realize while they all get along really well, they don’t know each other as well as they thought. They never have deep conversations about their personal life and issues.
This can be common among friendships today. It took me until my senior year of college to be vulnerable and share some of my struggles with my best friends I had known since freshman year. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with hanging out with friends to escape from feelings of sadness or anger or pain and celebrate the positives in life. However, real friends are willing to be open with each other about the good AND the bad. The best and closest relationships are the ones where you are there for each other for the ups AND downs of life.
Jesus was a tremendous example of what it means to be compassionate for others and he wants us to be the same for others. Jesus loved to have greats feasts and drink wine in celebration with others, but he was also there for others when they had a dying family member or were sick themselves. He wants us to do the same. You may have a friend whose mother is ill, or who is struggling in their marriage, or is in a battle with a mental illness themselves, and yet you have no idea. You yourself may have some real struggles in your life – we all do – and yet you never talk about them with others.
However, we NEED to be there for each other. Friends carry their friends’ burdens. If your friend is truly a friend, they will be more than happy to listen to what you are going through. I’m sure you would feel the same way if your friend was going through a hard time. The problem isn’t that we don’t care. It is just so much easier to get caught up in having fun and pretend like everything is ok. It is a lot harder to admit you were crying just hours earlier.
So what do we do? We need to be intentional. We can’t assume our friends are as happy as they seem. Everybody is going through something. We need to be aware of this and not casually ask our friends “How are you doing?” We need to ask “How are YOU doing?”, “How are you REALLY doing?”, “Is everything OK?”, “What are you STRUGGLING with?”, “How can I be PRAYING for you?”. This doesn’t mean every hangout with your friends needs to turn into a vent and cry session. Enjoying your time together is still important. At the same time, you will enjoy somebody’s company even more if they know you deeply and you know they are there to always support you.
So, be vulnerable and encourage others to do the same. Be there for them. Yes, it is hard, but I am telling you it is worth it. Because friendship isn’t just about having a good time. Nor is it only about sharing your sorrows with each other. It’s both and way more. It’s a million little things.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me for feedback, questions, or anything else. I’m happy to chat about anything and everything. I hope you could take away something helpful from this post. You can reach me at email@example.com!
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